“The Cow with Ear Tag #1389” by Kathryn Gillespie
Sadie was a dairy cow in California who, through a stroke of good fortune, ended her life living comfortably at the Animal Place, a sanctuary in California. Although she wasn’t physically beaten or intentionally abused, various health conditions went untreated and as a result of some practices, she became wary of humans. Gillespie’s heart was won over by this cow, and she explores the dairy industry and treatment of these grass puppies in this heart-wrenching expose. Many other books and documentaries have explored this industry from the perspective of raising cows for beef, but the side of dairy cows is often ignored. Gillespie takes readers to farms, auction yards and slaughterhouses, examines animal welfare laws and lays out the facts as they are, without exaggeration. The treatment of animals at various locations are explained in detail. Although it’s not an easy subject, and the industry and issues are complex, Gillespie navigates readers with ease and uses thoughtful language — cow rather than cattle and farm animal rather than livestock. Some scenes can be difficult to read, but the reader’s next trip to the grocery store is certain to be a thoughtful one.
“Our Native Bees: North America’s Endangered Pollinators and the Fight to Save Them” by Paige Embry
Honey bees have made the news recently with their declining populations, but these bees aren’t native to the United States. In this fascinating narrative, Embry explores native bee species and the impact they have on vegetation. Ceratina, bumble, squash and orchard mason bees all receive their due. Embry’s passion for these insects is passed to readers as her curiosity takes her bee hunting with a world expert and learns how to pin down and fluff bees for identification and scientific study. She even hosts blue orchard bees, dormant, in a box in her fridge until the spring, much to the dismay of her children. Crisscrossing the country for her research, Embry talks to farmers, gardeners and scientists about pesticide effects, pollinating rituals and hive building. Although she discusses the science, she keeps the tone conversational and uses layman’s terms, ensuring readers will fall in love with these essential insects.
“Buzz: The Nature and Necessity of Bees” by Thor Hanson
Humanity and our food sources have been shaped by bees. In this title, Hanson explores this co-existence by studying the decrease in bee populations, fears some hold against insects, social habits and general bee behavior. Hanson seeks out bees during nature walks with his toddler, explores nature with a bee expert who has witnessed the population decline of native bees firsthand and talks to a nutritional anthropologist about the effects of our food choices on bees. The honey bee is often featured in news stories, but Hanson recognizes the digger, bumble and other native species. Although he lingers over the scientific details, he keeps it accessible to the average reader. Hanson’s passion for these tiny pollinators is apparent and he pens a compelling history.
For more information about Wisconsin and Midwest authors, books and other related resources, visit the Brown County Library or call 920-448-4400.
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